Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holy Apostles and Prophets Part 3

Continuing on...

We have been dealing with the issue of apostles and prophets and the reason why God had Paul lists them in that order.  Remember that the way Paul talks about the apostles and prophets in Ephesians 3:5 is consistent with the book of Ephesians and with his ministry to the church the body of Christ, as opposed to how the Bible refers to those offices in time past - (first) prophets and (then) apostles.

Let’s look at our text again:

Ephesians 3:5
[speaking of the mystery of Christ] Which in other ages [before the age of grace]was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

We explained how after Paul, there were secondary apostles in the body of Christ.  God communicated the mystery to them by the Spirit of God.

Romans 1:5
By whom we [Paul and others] have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Paul is the head apostle who also received visions and revelations.

2 Corinthians 12:1
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

We see that there are secondary apostles, who established churches, throughout the book of Acts, as well.  The Spirit of God revealed the mystery of Christ to the prophets who would identify and speak/prophesy God’s word.

1 Corinthians 13:9
 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

But there were apostles in the body of Christ first:

1 Corinthians 12:27-28
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  And God hath set some in the church [the body of Christ], first apostles, secondarily prophets [so we see the order when it comes to the body], thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

That is why Paul intentionally says in Ephesians 3:5, ‘apostles and prophets.’

Ephesians 2:20
[speaking of the one body] And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Ephesians 4:11
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

So that is the order in the body of Christ.  But in prophecy there is another group of prophets and apostles (including Peter, James and John who learned from Paul but who were not a part of the body of Christ’s holy apostles and prophets).

In the prophetic book of Luke, the Lord Jesus Christ mentions prophets and apostles as he upbraids the unbelieving, religious leaders of Israel.

Luke 11:48-49
Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.  Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them [Israel] prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

So when God dealt with Israel in prophecy, he sent prophets first; and then during Christ’s earthly ministry he ordained twelve disciples/apostles.

Matthew 10:1
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

Israel is built upon the prophets.  Moses was a prophet.

Deuteronomy 34:10
And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,

Luke 24:27
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus Christ our Lord was a prophet.  God first sent prophets to Israel, and then apostles under the kingdom program.

Acts 3:22

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

In another prophetic book, 2 Peter in the Hebrew epistles, the order in which the prophets and apostles are listed is consistent with the old testament scriptures.

2 Peter 3:2
That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Peter talks about himself as a holy apostle to Israel, but first gives honor to the holy prophets.  We can see the distinction in the Bible between the mystery program and the prophetic program in the specific order in which prophets and apostles are listed. 

The one exception is in the book of Revelation, the only prophetic book that lists apostles and prophets in the same order as Paul’s epistles.  That is because John writes all his books futuristically.  He calls Christ Jehovah God, who calls those things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

John 3:13
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Jesus Christ had not yet ascended into heaven (John 20:17, Acts 1:9), and he was not in heaven when he was saying this to Nicodemus.

In Revelation 18:20, John is making reference to a future people.

Revelation 18:20
Rejoice over her [destroyed Babylon], thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

Isn’t that interesting?!  With the destruction of Babylon in the future, John calls for rejoicing and links heaven with holy apostles and prophets.  He lists the apostles before the prophets (as does Paul), but notice where they are.  They are in heaven!  They are members of the church the body of Christ which will already be in heaven when John’s prophecy of the Day of the Lord will be taking place.

Revelation 12:12a
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them [the body of Christ, as well as the holy angels].

So the reason that John did not list the prophets first like Luke and Peter did, is because he is talking about those in the body of Christ and not those in the prophetic program for Israel.  The holy apostles and prophets in the body of Christ were persecuted just like those in Israel, the Little Flock members.

Matthew 5:12
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

John 15:20
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Acts 7:52
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Galatians 1:13
 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

2 Corinthians 4:9
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

1 Thessalonians 2:15
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

Once the church was established, the prophets would prophecy the word of God (the mystery of Christ).  God supernaturally imparted this information to them.  Prophecy was a supernatural-operating gift of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 14:1-3, 6, 39
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.  For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

The reason that we no longer have apostles and prophets is because we now have the completed word of God.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish awayFor we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

The operating of the spiritual gifts is a huge issue in the church; but  Paul tells us that they were only temporary in nature until the word of God, particularly the mystery of Christ, was fully communicated.

To be continued…

No comments:

Post a Comment